What Does a Kitchen Manager Do?

Kitchens can be hectic places, but a good kitchen manager keeps them running smoothly. 

A kitchen manager — also called a cafeteria manager, kitchen supervisor or food preparation supervisor— is responsible for the day-to-day operation of a kitchen. This supervisor establishes food preparation and food safety standards and manages the workers who do those tasks. 

It takes a special leader to do this job well. A good kitchen manager understands team dynamics, how to keep a kitchen running efficiently, how and where to save money, how to consistently deliver good food that keeps clients happy and how to work with many different personality types.

A person with all these skills is in demand in restaurants, hotels, commercial kitchens, cafeterias and catering companies. 

If you like the idea of working in a fun, fast-paced environment, keep reading to learn more.

$ 28,000 - $ 58,700
$ 37,300
181,300+
Black male kitchen manager smiles with the restaurant manager in the kitchen
A good kitchen manager keeps a kitchen running efficiently and motivates the staff when things get hectic. (Credit: Jacob Lund/Shutterstock)

Job Responsibilities

  • Establish and improve food preparation processes
  • Ensure food quality and food safety
  • Hire, train and manage food prep workers
  • Ensure cleanliness of food preparation areas and equipment 
  • Manage food and non-alcoholic beverage inventory
  • Maintain kitchen schedule and assignments
  • Keep track of kitchen finances
  • May work with other key managers to set menu prices and discuss the menu

How To Become a Kitchen Manager: FAQs

Kitchen manager requirements: What steps do I need to take?

First, earn your high school diploma or equivalent. Additional education is not always required, but it may be worthwhile to get specialized training. Job opening requirements will vary. 

Attending a culinary institute or gaining similar experience from a community college or technical school will set you up for success. 

Certificate or associate degree programs will include basic kitchen tasks, food preparation techniques, food handling and food storage safety, accounting and management. Most hospitality programs will also include hands-on food industry experience, which may be an internship or a part-time job.

Hands-on experience matters in this line of work. It’s possible to start working in a restaurant as a dishwasher with little to no experience and work your way up to chef or head cook and eventually kitchen manager. Along the way, you can learn all the different kitchen and front-of-the-house roles. 

Many kitchens like to promote from within to benefit from this deep, in-house knowledge. Job experience may also help you secure a job in another establishment. 

No matter what path you take, expect to learn about the many areas of the kitchen and consider front-of-the-house roles, such as waiter or even food service manager

Continuing education is common for all types of food service supervisors. Expect to take classes or earn certifications in topics such as management, nutrition, allergens, specific kitchen roles and food management. One example is the Food Protection Manager Certification (FPMC).

Many associations offer helpful certifications, including the National Environmental Health Association, the American Culinary Federation and the National Restaurant Association. 

Are there any other kitchen manager qualifications to consider?

A driver’s license would be helpful, as managers tend to work odd hours, including nights and weekends.

How long does it take to become a kitchen manager?

It varies. A certificate program typically takes a year. An associate degree takes two years. Culinary programs may take two years or longer.

Some people work their way up to this position through work experience, which takes several years.  

What skills and qualities would make someone a good fit for this job?

Successful kitchen managers tend to share these traits: 

  • Decisiveness
  • Calm under pressure
  • Excellent communication and interpersonal skills
  • Attention to detail
  • Good leadership and motivational skills
  • Solid culinary background
  • Solid financial abilities
  • Able to stand on their feet for long hours
The bottom line:

If you enjoy working with food in a fast-paced environment, becoming a kitchen manager or food prep supervisor could be a great move. Check out the training options near you and get started on your next chapter. 

Kitchen Manager Training in Your Area

Coordinates

Culinary Management

Nova Scotia Community College
(0.0 Miles)

Business Hospitality Management - AAS

Metropolitan Community College (MO)
Kansas City (149.7 Miles)
Kirkwood Community College logo

Hospitality Management, A.A.S

Kirkwood Community College
Cedar Rapids (397.5 Miles)

Culinary Arts

Houston Community College
Houston (508.1 Miles)
Gillette College logo

Hospitality and Tourism Management AAS

Gillette College
Gillette (713.6 Miles)
Gillette College logo

Hospitality and Tourism Leadership Certificate

Gillette College
Gillette (713.6 Miles)
Guilford Technical Community College logo

Hospitality management

Guilford Technical Community College
Jamestown (878.9 Miles)

Hospitality Leadership

Pima Community College
Tucson (924.3 Miles)
Trident Technical College logo

Hospitality Management

Trident Technical College
Charleston (931.6 Miles)
Trident Technical College logo

Hospitality Management

Trident Technical College
Charleston (931.6 Miles)
School logo for Estrella Mountain Community College

Culinary Arts, A.A.S.

Estrella Mountain Community College
Avondale (969.1 Miles)
School logo for Estrella Mountain Community College

Culinary Arts 1

Estrella Mountain Community College
Avondale (969.1 Miles)